The single-sport future

A few days ago, I set up a second Twitter feed at @duresportmma.

That’s not something I plan to do often. You won’t see @duresportchess, @duresportbiathlon or @duresportmodernpentathlon. I just sensed that, despite a rush of interest from some MMA buddies in the World Cup, I had little overlap between MMA followers and those who know me mostly from soccer.

Splitting my Twitter audience doesn’t mean I’m giving up on the notion of a multisport blog here at Sports Myriad. If I were going all out for high traffic, I’d probably pick a focus. Frankly, it’d most likely be MMA — even with the glut of MMA blogs out there, many of whom get the same access to athletes that I get with my USA TODAY cred, I still get the highest traffic here for my MMA content. The recaps of The Ultimate Fighter outdraw everything by several multiples. The link from USA TODAY helps, but it’s also search traffic — the same search traffic I’m hoping to get for other sports when I really get moving on Olympic sports.

It wasn’t just that I was getting unfollowed when I posted about MMA, though that happened quite a bit. (Yes, a couple of them are fellow journalists.) I was also trying to reach an MMA audience that had little interest in other sports.

Anecdotally, I find MMA fans tend to ignore other sports unless they’re closely related on the sports family tree. Many follow wrestling, especially with college wrestling slowly turning into MMA’s amateur ranks, and quite a few maintain a healthy respect for boxing.

That’s not too surprising. MMA offers a different experience than other sports, and it’s selling itself as an alternative lifestyle. It’s a postmodern hybrid of traditional martial arts self-reliance and “action” sports’ self-expression. For some reason, those attitudes manifest themselves in expensive, ornate T-shirts.

But MMA fans aren’t the only ones who tend to sequester themselves with a single sport. Soccer fans are getting that way as well.

That’s also not too surprising, given the newfound capability for soccer fans to immerse themselves in their sport year-round. Two soccer-specific channels keep the games flowing constantly. European clubs barely take a break between the end of the season and preseason friendlies in the USA.

And so we have a paradox. Given unlimited choice, with practically every sport in the world streamed somewhere, are we really going to focus on just one sport?

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2 Responses to The single-sport future

  1. Abe says:

    I have the opposite problem of being a multi-sport fan to almost a foolish degree. I follow teams in MLB, NFL, NBA, EPL, MLS, college basketball and am a big MMA fan on top of that. Think it’s a product of me having too much spare time but I enjoy a lot of different things.

    I’m curious if there are really a lot of one-sport people. I know MMA and soccer are two polarizing sports and I think that has more to do with it than anything. People generally are all or nothing on either of them.

  2. Tully says:

    You won’t see @duresportchess, @duresportbiathlon or @duresportmodernpentathlon.

    Nor will you see @duresportfieldhockey, @duresportultimatefrisbee or @duresporttiddleywinks.

    But … how about @duresportredrover?

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